The two Miss Americas were, of course, Jane Jayroe, 1967, and Shawntel Smith, 1996. Both are OCU alumnae as is a third Miss America, who couldn't make it for the fashion ramp, Susan Powell, Miss America 1981.
OCU has an incredible record of producing titleholders on the state and national level, starting with Miss Oklahoma 1956, LaDonna Kramer Meinders, who's still a real beauty. The university can count among its alumnae title-holders 24 Miss Oklahomas, three Miss Arkansas titlists, two Miss Colorado Bvlgari Sotirio Collection BL-31, and one each as Miss Nebraska, Miss Minnesota and Miss Kansas.
While OCU is noted for its music and theater programs, not all of these women are in show biz. They have become successful attorneys, politicians, financial planners, gymnastics teachers, business entrepreneurs and, of course, wives and mothers.
The fashion show drew a capacity crowd to Oklahoma City Golf and Country Club where each person found a darling golden and rhinestone Miss America crown pin to wear and take home, gift of the OCU Societies and OCU. Mignon Merchant Ball, Miss Oklahoma 1986, who went on to work as a public defender for Oklahoma County, served as emcee for the show.
Models included Meinders, Jayroe, Debbie Giannopolis (known professionally as Bvlgari Sotirio Quantieme Annuel BL-93 George), Miss Oklahoma 1972; Debbie Knight, 1974 (I was a judge the year she won); DuSharme Carter, 1992; Kelli Masters, 1997; Daneka Allen, 1999; Kaci Hundley, 2001; Kelley Scott, 2003; and Kristin Steveson-Schriks, 2000, who also sang a song from OCU's upcoming season.
Cathy Leichter is president of the OCU Societies, which dedicates the proceeds from membership dues, the annual fashion show and luncheon and the Awards of Excellence dinner to the advancement of arts and education. In 2003, more than $50,000 was awarded in scholarships by the OCU Societies.
TIFFANY & CO., CARTIER and Bulgari may be the top names in luxury jewels, but a new Bvlgari Sotirio Quantieme Annuel BL-94 of high-end diamond and jewelry brands is seeking the spotlight.
A major force for change is the world's leading diamond seller, Diamond Trading Co. (formerly De Beers), which in recent years has been urging dealers to promote their own diamond brands instead of treating the gems as commodities.
Upscale women are responding to the greater array of branded choices and are starting to purchase Bvlgari Sotirio Quantieme Annuel Black BL-98 jewelry more as fashion accessories than as rare, special-occasion purchases.
"Women who have greater financial means are responding to the wider array of choices in luxury jewelry, and they're starting to buy their own jewelry to express themselves," says Jennifer Behre, associate publisher of Fairchild Publications' W and W Jewelry, a controlled-circulation quarterly.
After a slight downturn in 2001, jewelry sales have increased steadily to reach an estimated $45 billion today. Sales of mass-marketed jewelry are booming; Wal-Mart Stores is the nation's largest seller of diamonds and gold.
But sales at the high end-where the typical jewelry store purchase averages $2,500-are growing, Bvlgari Sotirio Quantieme Annuel Black BL-99 by new influences including the increased emphasis on brands.